Wellness in the Schools meets Dr. Laurie at PS53 in the Bronx
Today we whipped up a storm with our first cooking class of the year, featuring Dr. Laurie of the Healthy Tummy Initiative and WITS chef extraordinaire, Kristin.
The kids quickly rushed in and I gathered their attention by starting with a few basic concepts including MyPlate, 5 A Day and Eating the colors of the rainbow at each meal. Their challenge was to create their own version of MyPlate using the recipes and ingredients we provided for them. Reward? Each student got to savor the flavors at the end of the class and take the time to EAT!
This cooking class was hosted by of the most wonderfully dedicated teachers that I know, who graciously started off her morning by picking Kristin and I up from the local grocery store to help transport the freshly purchased groceries needed for today’s heart-healthy lesson. Without the help of Kristin and Ms. Okpalanma, none of this would have been possible — from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
Ingredients for MyPlate Recipes
Our Healthy Tummy Shopping list:
- Olive oil
- 2 pounds of Chicken breasts, precut into strips
- Pecans, ½ cup raw
- Almonds, ½ cup raw
- Large eggs, 2
- Spinach, 3 bags (organic if possible)
- Garlic, 3 cloves
- Sweet potatoes, 6 large (preheat large pot with water to boil potatoes)
- Organic unsalted butter, 1-2 tablespoon
- Maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoon
- Sea salt
- Dried herbs & spices: fresh parsley; dried: cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried thyme
- Small container of plain yogurt
- Honey, 2 tablespoon
- Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoon
This classroom of 30-something 5th graders was stuffed to the brim with some of the brightest students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching, as they were attentive (for the most part!), super engaged in our conversation and had so much to say about health, cooking and nutrition. This is what I call an ‘enlightened’ group. They get it. With kids, as soon as you turn on the light switch, it says ON, and usually for good.
Here are a few pics we captured during the day — we wish we got more but our hands were tied up cooking with the kids!
- Kids love to blend, mix and DIP!
Here is one of the teams whipping up our healthy version of Honey Mustard sauce to dip our Crunchy Chicken Tenders into. Here is the recipe:
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Pinch salt
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Yield: approximately 1 cup. Huge hit with the kids. Here is our lovely teacher evenly distributing the sauce into individual cups for hygiene, of course!
- Ms. Okpalanma ROCKS!
Sharing = caring –> Check out the girls helping each other coat the Chicken Tenders.
Chicken Tender Dipping Station
Here’s our kid-friendly recipe:
Pecan & Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders
- 1 cup pecan pieces/almond pieces finely ground
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
- Chopped parsley, garnish
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pecan & almond pieces and spices. Pulse for 1 minute to combine. Pour into a shallow dish. In another bowl, beat together the eggs & olive oil.
- One at a time, dip chicken into the egg mixture then dredge in the pecan mixture. Shake to remove any excess.
- Heat a medium sized skillet on medium heat, then add a few tablespoons of coconut or olive oil.
- Transfer breaded chicken to the preheated pan, turning once, when the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden, 6 to 9 minutes on each side.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to plates. Garnish with parsley and serve with Honey Mustard Dipping sauce on the side.
Kids Love Getting their Hands Dirty
Check out the students getting busy in our makeshift kitchen, aka classroom!
Beautifully Breaded Tenders: Almonds!
Um, can you say DELISH?! Students were licking their plates clean and loved the ‘crumbs’ from our recipe.
Electric outlets were hard to come by in the classroom, so we had the spinach cooking in one corner. Here is our recipe:
Groovy Garlic Spinach
- 3 bags of organic spinach leaves, prewashed
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- Pinch of sea salt
- Coconut or olive oil to cook with
- Heat a medium sized skillet on medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
- When coconut oil is melted, add chopped garlic and sauté until golden brown to infuse the oil with garlic flavor.
- Add in the green spinach and continue to mix until leaves soften and wilt in with the garlic and oil mixture.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
- Watch as the leaves dehydrate and shrink down to ¼ of their original size!
- Serve immediately.
Honey Mustard Dip Creators!
Once everything was completed, the teachers and I created mini versions of MyPlate for each student to taste. A dollop of maple sweet potato, garlic spinach and parsley crusted chicken tender along with sauce went onto each plate, providing half colorful vegetables, and the other half protein covered with whole grain.
- MyPlate: Perfectly Balanced
Here is our recipe for our beta-carotene rich dish:
Sweet, Sweet Potato Mash
- 6-8 large sweet potatoes, washed, boiled and mashed
- 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
- Pure Maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoons to taste
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil with the washed sweet potatoes in the water.
- On a low boil, cook the potatoes until soft enough that it is easy to pierce the potato skin with a fork, usually 20-25 minutes.
- Remove potatoes from the water and let them cool before removing the skin.
- Mash the softened potatoes with a fork or hand blender until creamy.
- Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of butter as it melts into the warmed potatoes.
- Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt for added flavor.
- Optional: Add 1-2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup for a touch of sweetness!
Sweet Potato Mashing TEAM
This team was SO proud of their dish!
A close-up of the goodness…. Savory, sweet & warm all at once!
Who Wants SECONDS?!
I truly hope that I get invited back and cook up another tasty, balanced meal with these wonderful kids… I am so grateful for this hilarious day (you gotta work on the fly since things NEVER go as you plan them to!).
Class Poster featured outside of Ms. Okpalanma’s classroom